Equine Massage: The Equine Sports Massage
In recent years, equine massage has increased awareness in America and Europe and reached other countries. It is essential for horse owners, tamers, and professional riders to know what it is and how horses can benefit from this technique.
Where Does It Come From?
Therapeutic Equine massage is one of the oldest therapies used by people from ancient times to the present times. Some forms of equine therapeutic massage were practiced by the ancient Chinese and Roman civilizations and more recently by the Hopi Indians of the western US. In the US, many schools are already teaching equine sports massage techniques, and some schools in Europe are also starting to offer courses.
Many trainers and riders now prefer a “total” approach to alternative medicine. “Total” means to create an environment for the maintenance and recovery of health. We must consider the horse as a whole: the sum of its physical and psychological characteristics treating the symptoms as a whole, taking into account the various factors that affect the horse internally and externally. As we see, this complex whole can affect the horse for its health or illness. Any malfunction of the skeleton-muscular system requires an assessment of the causes and factors; we know that the body fights to heal, replenish and maintain itself if the conditions are right. Our responsibility is to help the body’s reparative capacity, emotional stability, nutritional balance, exercise, hygiene and structural well-being of the horse.
Find the Source of the Problem
If the factors responsible for the problem to be treated are not corrected (whether in the origin of postures, occupational, habitual, movements or skeleton-muscular), the treatment according to the symptoms will only be short-term and can guarantee the symptoms return.
The Touch of the Massage
The touch of the massage has a powerful influence on horses and animals of all ages, benefiting their condition. It is generally used to prevent and relieve stress and helps with injury recovery. Massage techniques safely affect the entire body, regulating the circulatory, nervous, and muscular systems and their functions. The massage will relax the excited horse and give strength and flexibility to the tired horse; it helps remove toxins and increases oxygenation for better metabolism and performance, shortening recovery time. Over time, it will also relax a restless horse with a suspicious character.
Well-Being in General
Therapeutic massage is the manipulation of the body’s soft tissue to reach specific objectives such as drainage, relaxation or stimulation; and perceive problems related to muscles, such as reaction points and stress. All of this contributes to the overall development of the body and its ability to function efficiently. It dramatically improves circulation, thus providing the muscles with a good amount of nutrients; contributes to the relaxation of the nervous system, which is equal to less stress; it helps psychophysiology, that is, the regulation between body and mind; It also intervenes in the accelerated recovery from injuries. The increase in the emotional relationship with our horses is even more significant, especially if they are young, as they learn to relax and accept human contact. Not all horses enjoy human contact, which is a symptom of problems or phobias. Gentle and frequent massages can solve phobias.
Benefits of Massage
– Improves circulation.
– Relieves congestion.
– Increased number of red blood cells.
– Stimulates the lymphatic system.
– Helps eliminate toxins.
– Relaxes muscle spasms.
– Reduces tension.
– Helps return venous blood to the heart.
– Increases nutrients in the tissues.
– Lengthening connective tissue.
– Increases the supply of blood and nutrients to the muscles.
– Improves the general disposition of the horse.
– Increases muscle tone and range of motion.
Common Muscle Problems
– Rejection or resistance to commands.
– Neck or head pain.
– Short braces.
– Drag of the hind legs.
– Lameness in the hip and shoulder.
– Irregular strokes.
– Problems when cinching.
– Muscle problems due to cold back.
How to Use the Massage
– During competitions to maintain a good development.
– After exercise to limit the effects of fatigue.
– After injuries.
– When there is atrophy or uneven development of the muscles.
– Tension and stiffness.
– Refuses to work or cooperate.
– Sudden changes in temperament.
– Problems not solved by conventional methods.
Historical Cases of Massage
– A 7-year-old gelding horse had chronic stiffness when leaving the barn, i.e., a case of poor circulation. After a massage session, the horse came out typically.
– In a 9-year-old gelding Quarter Horse, overwork caused wear and stiffness in his joints. For 6 months, the horse did not want to lift his right leg. Called Blacksmiths and veterinarians to cure him without achieving anything. After two massages, the horse raised its leg typically.
Stretching improves the muscle tone of the fibers and the elasticity of the ligaments and the capsules of the knots and, therefore, prevents muscle pulls. A strong muscle that has been stretched resists stress better than one that has not been stretched. Muscle stretching improves circulation, carries more oxygen, nourishes the entire body, prevents inflammation and adhesions (formation of scars in the tissue), pain points, and stress points.